Australia funds water loss research

Close to $3 million is being poured into studies outlining how water is lost through evaporation and plant use, Australian government announced late last week.

The research is part of a nation-wide scheme called the Raising National Water Standard Programme, which includes three projects focusing on the remote sensing of evapotranspiration at the local, catchment and regional level.

Evapotranspiration includes evaporation and plant water use, and is the second largest component of the hydrological cycle, representing up to 90% of rainfall levels in many areas.

Australia’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull said:

“If we can improve existing remote sensing technologies to determine the extent of evapotranspiration across a range of land uses and environments, rural communities will be much better placed to improve water productivity and to estimate the availability of water.”

Projects for the research include looking into using satellite-based measuring systems to quantify the water requirements of major irrigated crops and important ecosystems in some regions; a project applying overseas methods of remote sensing of

evapotranspiration to Australian catchments, improving accounting of water balances; and developing a model for mapping the amount of water used by plants.

The Australian Government Water Fund is investing more than $1.6 billion to over 3,400 projects worth $4.6 billion.

This week, Australian reports warned that water use in cities like Sydney would have to be reduced by 50% over the next 25 years because of a rising population and a declining amount of rainfall. The research funded by government showed that the amount of rain may decline by 20% across urban areas over the next 60 years while temperatures rise by 2 degrees Celsius.

Dana Gornitzki

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